A website for The Hut.com, www.lookfantastic.com, for beauty products, seen on 2 September 2019, included a banner at the top of the homepage with the text “First 250 customers save 20% everyone else saves 15% Click here to shop – Use Code: BIRTHDAY”.
The complainant, who understood that many items were excluded from the discount, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
The Hut.com Ltd said that when customers clicked on the words “Click here to shop” they were directed to a page which displayed a list of all products that were included in the offer. The discount could be used on 1,505 items which were listed over several pages.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim “First 250 customers save 20% everyone else saves 15% Click here to shop – Use Code: BIRTHDAY” to mean that the first 250 consumers who purchased items from the website using the code would obtain a 20% discount and after that, consumers would be able to obtain a 15% discount. We noted the ad did not state that the discount applied to all items on the website, and we acknowledged that it stated “Click here to shop”. However, we considered the ad did not make clear that the discount applied to selected items which could only be identified by clicking through from the banner ad. We therefore considered consumers would understand that they could obtain a 15% discount on all items available from the website so long as they entered the code “BIRTHDAY” at checkout. Because many items on the website were not eligible for the discount, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 3.17 3.17 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product featured in the marketing communication. (Prices).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told The Hut.com Ltd to ensure that when a discount is applied to selected items, rather than all items, it was communicated to consumers that the offer only applied to selected items (for example by using terms such as “selected” or “exclusions apply”), and to which items the discount was applied.